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Coming Back to Your Breath

Meditation for Dummies by Stephan Bodian devotes Chapter 15 to "How to Meditate in Everyday Life". Among the nicest suggestions:

Sometimes you feel like you're just moving too quickly and dealing with too many matters at once to know how (or where) to be mindful. "Where do I place my attention," you may wonder, "when things are happening so fast?" Just as you can begin your formal practice of mindfulness meditation by counting or following your breaths (see Chapter 6), you can always return to the direct and simple experience of breathing, even in the most complicated circumstances. No matter how many other things you may be doing, you're always breathing — and the physical experience of inhaling and exhaling provides a reliable anchor for your attention in stressful times. Then, once you've begun to pay attention to your breath, you can gradually expand to include mindful awareness of your other activities.

Besides, gently paying attention to your breath gradually calms your mind by shifting awareness away from your thoughts and slowing your mind down to the pace and rhythms of your body. With your mind and body in synch, you start to feel a natural ease and an inner harmony and tranquility that external circumstances can't easily disturb.

You can begin by stopping whatever you're doing for a moment or two and tuning in to the coming and going of your breath. Your attention may be drawn to the rise and fall of your abdomen as you breathe, or to the feeling of your breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils. Be mindful of these sensations for four or five breathing cycles, enjoying the simplicity and directness of the experience. When you breathe with awareness, you're consciously awake and alive in the present moment. Then resume your normal activities while continuing to be mindful of your breath. (If you find this multidimensional awareness too confusing or complicated, you can just remember to come back to your breath every now and then.)

(cf. Meditation Made Easy (2008-11-01), Midcourse Correction (2009-02-13), Try It for a Few Years (2009-05-19), Being with Your Breath (2010-02-20), Cat Bellies and Dog Noses (2010-10-12), The Watcher (2010-11-15), Calm Technique (2011-05-07), ...) - ^z - 2011-09-25

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